Excerpts of an interview with W. Kempff in Istanbul
AKSAM Newspaper – 21 January 1950
(Photo below: Copy of part of the original page of the newspaper AKSAM)

“Music in Turkey is becoming quickly westernised. I heard Idil Biret in Paris. In ten years she will be an internationally renowned artist”

Wilhelm Kempff was preparing his bags to catch the Ankara train when I found him at the Park Hotel in Istanbul.

I asked him how many times he had been to Turkey altogether. Five he replied adding that his previous visits were in 1927, 1931, 1937 and 1949.

I continued to say that from news reaching us he had met and heard Idil Biret play in Paris. What did he think about the artistic ability of this little Turkish girl? Kempff said “You have asked an important question. I would like you to note all that I will now say:

I listened to Idil at a hotel in Paris on a Sunday. To tell the truth I had not expected that this little child would have such great talent. She has an amazing capacity and is a surprise as a pianist and a musician. On that day Idil played Bach’s D Minor Piano Concerto for me. When she finished I asked her to transpose the work and play in the C Minor key. The child did this effortlessly. Her small compositions are also indicative of an astonishing talent. I will never forget her compositions titled Elephants, Saint Sophia and Süleymaniye. One should be happy that her education will be guided by a teacher like Nadia Boulanger. I hope that the name of Idil will be internationally renowned in ten years.”

I then asked when he would be playing in Istanbul. Kempff replied that he would give an all Beethoven recital on 23 January. On the 26th he would play works by Brahms and Schumann with the Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra. This would be followed by a final recital on the 30th with a mixed program. On 31 January Kempff will travel to Athens and play there the same evening.

Sahap Balcioglu